The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is lending $30 million to leading resource recovery company ResourceCo to deliver an innovative alternative fuel plant in NSW.
The money will be used to build two new plants that will transform selected non-recyclable waste streams into solid fuel, known as Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF). The first plant is to be built at Wetherill Park in Sydney and the second to be in another Australian state yet to be announced.
PEF is used in cement kilns, reducing the reliance on coal and other fossil fuels. This fuel will initially be used locally, but will also be exported as an alternative to coal and gas for cement kilns in Asia.
Henry Anning, CEFC Bioenergy and Energy from Waste Sector lead, said PEF demonstrated the incredible potential to transform waste, that would otherwise go into landfill, into a baseload energy source as part of Australia’s future clean energy mix, while also lowering emissions.
“Our research into the bioenergy sector has identified investment opportunities of between $2.2 billion and $3.3 billion to 2020 in the urban waste industry. Commercial viability has been driven by a combination of rising landfill gate fees and falling technology costs,” Mr Anning said.
“Waste levies in states such as NSW, the ACT, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria, are improving the business case for this kind of alternative use of the waste, rather than it going into landfill.”
The CEFC finance will enable ResourceCo to accelerate the development of the Wetherill Park plant, and proceed with a similar facility in another Australian state in due course.
Simon Brown, ResourceCo Managing Director said: “Our business operates across both Australia and South East Asia, which places us in a prime position to drive this new initiative forward and make a real difference in the way in which these communities view and deal with waste.”
When operational, the Wetherill Park plant will process around 150,000 tonnes of waste a year to produce PEF and recover other commodities such as metal, clean timber, and inert materials.
As an indication of the plant’s environmental credentials, it has been successful in securing $5 million in grant funding from the NSW Environmental Trust under the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative. The technology is also eligible for Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) due to the diversion of waste from landfill.
Mr Anning said generating heat and electricity from bioenergy and waste resources is cost competitive with other new-built energy generation. However, the technologies are not yet widely deployed in Australia.
“Being a throw-away society is a luxury Australia must reconsider. As a nation, we’re producing about 23 million tonnes of landfill each year, causing a growing problem with potential air, water and land quality impacts and generating ongoing monitoring and remediation liabilities,” he said.
“This investment is expected to abate over 8 million tonnes of CO2e over the expected lifetime of the equipment,” Mr Anning added.
The CEFC’s finance for ResourceCo is another example of the CEFC’s focus on delivering clean energy solutions in Australian cities, as part of its Sustainable Cities Investment Program.